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Royal Knight defender will play college ball

By JAMAL THALJI, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 25, 2002

NEW PORT RICHEY -- River Ridge defensive tackle Joey Mayo will play college football this fall, and he'll do it as a Fighting Scot.

Mayo will play for Monmouth College in Illinois, joining fellow River Ridge alumni freshman running back Todd Sabean and sophomore defensive lineman Justin Fenton.

Former River Ridge football coach Scott Schmitz, who now coaches at Mitchell, played football at Monmouth, graduating in 1977.

It was those local connections that helped bring Mayo to Monmouth's attention.

"I know Justin Fenton recommended him, and I talked to (Monmouth) coach (Steve) Bell about him also," Schmitz said. "I know (Mayo) was looking for a place to go to school and play ball.

"I know that he can definitely help their program."

River Ridge coach Mike DeGennaro sent Monmouth some of Mayo's films, and the Fighting Scots liked what they saw.

DeGennaro said Monmouth is getting the Royal Knights' top defender, one who never gave up on a play.

"Joey played well for us for four years, he always wanted to play college football and this is a good chance for him," DeGennaro said. "I think they're getting somebody who will work hard on the field. He's a non-strop, from whistle-to-whistle guy and a very emotional player."

Division III Monmouth went 8-2 in 2001, the program's best record since 1989. Bell was named Midwest Conference coach of the year and 13 players were named to the All-MWC team.

Mayo proved himself to be one of the top defensive lineman in the county. The 6-foot, 246-pound senior lineman has a quick first step and a nose for the ball, leading River Ridge with 42 tackles and 60 assists.

Mayo also had 4.5 sacks, 13 tackles for loss and a fumble recovery to earn a spot on the Times All-Pasco County first team and the Sunshine Athletic Conference first team.

Mayo earned similar honors in wrestling.

He was a state-qualifier for the Royal Knights, and helped River Ridge win an SAC title. Mayo won a conference championship in the 215-pound class and finished fourth at the region meet. He earned a spot on the All-SAC wrestling team after going 47-8.

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